The temporary suspension of casino operations in the Chinese autonomous region of Macau in an attempt to halt the spread of novel coronavirus has led to gross gaming revenue plummeting in February.
Total GGR for the month dropped 87.8% year-on-year to MOP3.10bn (£303.4m/€349.6m/$387.4m), after Executive Order 39/2020 ordered all venues to cease operations on 5 February.
This 15-day suspension also saw facilities such as cinemas, theatres, nightclubs, discos, fitness centres, steam baths and beauty salons, among other venues, shut down.
Activity resumed on 20 February following extensive evaluations of the risk to casino patrons and employees.
The government of Macau discussed a range of preventative measures with the city’s six gaming concessionaires and sub-concessionaires before the resumption of gambling operations, including mandatory body temperature checks at casino entrances. Other measures discussed were having all employees and patrons wear face masks, and greater distance between gaming tables.
Macau also saw visitor numbers decline sharply as a result of flights and ferries to mainland China, and other countries cancelled as a result of the virus. A number of regional airlines, as well as international carriers such as Vietnam Airlines, Philippines Airlines and South Korea’s Jeju Air all cancelled flights to and from the island.
This has contributed to gaming revenue falling sharply for the year to date. February’s 87.8% decline in revenue came after a 11.3% decline in January, to MOP22.13bn, with revenue for the year to date down 49.9% at MOP50.31bn.
This came after Macau's gambling market struggled in 2019, with total revenue for the year down 3.4% to MOP292.46bn. A survey commissioned by the Social Welfare Bureau revealed that 40.9% of people in the Chinese administrative region gambled in 2019, down from 51.5% in 2016 and the lowest rate ever recorded in such a study.